Green Party adopts careful policy on antisemitism

See their new thinking on Greens Engage.

17 Responses to “Green Party adopts careful policy on antisemitism”

  1. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Better, but I do notice that it leaves out the bit of the EUMC report and definition which states that the person who gets to decide (or at least is entitled to make a reasoned complaint about) whether antisemitism has occurred is the potential victim, and that it is not up to the alleged perpertrator to deny that this has happened. That is up to a disinterested third party.

    Ditto racism.

    I wonder why not? Does omitting that let certain highly placed Green Party individuals off the hook? Or am I just being my usual paranoid self?

    • Chris Fox Says:

      As far as I can tell, the EUMC draft definition included in the GPRC report is an accurate reflection of the version published on the web, which does not appear to mention the issue of who gets to decide, or the onus of proof.

      I think the adoption of this definition is a very positive step. Of course, having a policy is only part of the story; there also needs to be a commitment to implement it effectively, and consistently, without prejudice.

  2. Absolute Observer Says:

    Mira and Raphael,
    What are your views on this?
    More generally, Lucas’ notorious comment that you cannot criticise Israel without being labelled antisemitic? Would it fall under this policy? And, if so, should not the “leader” of the party be setting an example for what is acceptable, rather than what may now be deemed unacceptable?

  3. Raphael Says:

    I don’t know what is the rational for this omission as I was not in the meeting which endorsed this. But this has to be recognized as a major move in the right direction by the Green Party.

    And the issue of unintentional racism is addressed upfront before the EUMC definition:

    “The Green Party uses the precautionary principle in general to respect people and the planet. In applying the precautionary principle the definition of racism most applicable is that of the MacPherson report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.

    It is not acceptable for an individual to say ‘I am not a racist’ if his or her words or acts are perceived to be racist.”

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Like Chris and Raphael I think this is very positive. I have since been informed that the circulated statement is not finalised, and there are some small corrections and other amendments. We are now waiting for a final version, as well as an indication of its status, how it will be disseminated at grass roots level, and how it can be implemented.

      I think the language of the EUMC statement is highly qualified and does not shut down debate. It does imply careful, responsible, substantiated arguments that do not reveal particular animosity. This is only good politics.

  4. Inna Says:

    It’s definitely a move in the right direction but we will see what happens when (as we say here) the rubber hits the road. And that will happen when (not if; when) a Green Party member (possibly elected) uses anti-Semitic tropes to “criticise” Israel and, when called on it, says something to the effect, “You’re only saying that because the Zionists (Jews–I mean only Jews are ever Zionists, right?) told you to and the Jews control the media.”

    What happens then? Will this individual be suffered to remain in the Green Party or not?

    The words are a good move in the right direction. Let’s see how (or if) they are implemented.



  5. Curious Says:

    I find it truly amazing that in 2010 a political party’s commitment to an anti-racist commitment is seen as particulalrly worthy of praise. Surely it is no more than a basic assumption that a party would not be or condone or articulate anti-Jewish hostility.

    Maybe one needs to wonder how it got to the stage that this issue needed to be “dealt with” in the first place.

  6. Bialik Says:

    “We recognise that it may need to be revised in light of the recent Citizen Act/Nationality Act in Israel.”

    What is all this about? The ‘oath of loyalty’ proposal? It is not now and may never become an Act – see Lozowick on the matter.

    Or are the Greens alluding to something else? Can anyone explain?

  7. Winston Says:

    This is proof positive that political interventions against antisemitism do, in fact, work. The EUMC definition, excoriated by some at the time of its adoption as a pro-Israel smokescreen, has slowly become a benchmark. This process was aided in no small measure by the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into Antisemitism and its report in 2005 – itself a significant political intervention. If one strategy for countering antisemitism is containment, developments such as these need to be properly – and positively – evaluated.

  8. Deborah Fink Says:

    The Green Party has NOT adopted this intellectually dishonest definition.
    The GPRC does not have the power to implement something that is not policy, and something that has not been passed at conference, is not policy.

    Many of us in the party, including Jews, are up in arms over this ridiculous statement which was approved in naivety and with a lack of understanding of the issues. Rest assured, that we will not let the Green party adopt it.

  9. INT Says:

    This is the bit that the anti-zionists object to. It seems to me to be a very careful outline of criteria as to how we might judge the boundaries between criticism and antisemitic demonziation. It makes itself clear that one would still have to use judgment to apply the criteria, that it doesn’t legislate against anything automatically… I can’t see what this definition excludes which anybody reasonable might want to say. It makes extremely clear and harsh criticism possible:

    Examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

    * Denying the Jewish people right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor.

    * Applying double standards b requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

    * Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

    * Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

    * Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.

    However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.

  10. Absolute Observer Says:

    Mira and Raphael,

    Could you clarify something for me?
    Deborah argues that many in the Green Party, including Jews”, etc.
    Is it the case that, on matters relating to Israel and the antisemitism that can attach to it, members have one vote and Jewish members two votes (one for their general membership) and one because they are “Jewish)?
    Or is it simply the case that Deborah is exploiting her being Jewish for purely rhetorical purposes in her fight against the opposition to antisemitism within her adopted party?

  11. Screaming "Fascist" in a Megaphone Says:

    “with a lack of understanding of the issues”.

    Like the way Zionists use antisemitism to stop debate?
    Like the way one cannot criticise Israel without being called an antisemite?
    Like the way one cannot make a comparision between Israel and Nazi Germany without being labeled an antisemite.

    No wonder Deborah FInk opposes it. It would mean that she is left with nothing other than the resources of rationalist argument. Never the best weapon for articulating an obsession.

  12. Fr. Edwards Says:

    But isn’t that exactly the anti-zionist view – that Israel is a racist endeavour? And they want to be able to say so.

    And if other countries are compared to “Nazis” the last paragraph permits the charge to be levelled at Israel?

  13. INT Says:

    Deborah Fink:

    “Happy Birthday to you,
    I’m ashamed as a Jew,”

    Howard Jacobson won the Man Booker on false pretences – it is supposed only to be awarded for a work of fiction.

  14. Mirror Man Says:

    I knew the video of Finkster reminded my of something…….

    Same tactic, same obsession.

  15. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Now this _is_ interesting. Deborah Fink says “Many of us in the [Green] party, including Jews, are up in arms over this ridiculous statement which was approved in naivety and with a lack of understanding of the issues. Rest assured, that we will not let the Green party adopt it.” So, she knows that “many” in the party “including Jews” are against the proposed policy on antisemitism for theGreen Party. In her usual manner (see numerous comments over the last 5 years of this website’s life), she presents no evidence, but merely asserts this. This report has been up for 5 days, and she might have known of this a day or two before it was posted. Clearly, time enough for her not only to poll party members, but also to determine their religious affiliation/ethnicity.

    So, Deborah Fink, how about your evidence for this assertion? If you don’t know us by now, then you are a _really_ slow learner: we expect evidence to go with statements like this, but I don’t expect any. What I expect (on past performance) is a repetition (possibly more than one) of the original statement, probably somewhat varied in language, plus attempts to introduce unrelated topics, in the hope that we won’t notice that no evidence has been produced for the first assertion.

    Secondly, Ms Fisk finds that fighting antisemitism is a bad thing. We know this, because she says so: she tells us that the proposed policy adopting the EUMC policy on antisemitism is a “ridiculous statement”. So now she knows better than the all-party committee (of both Houses of Parliament) on antisemitism, which recommended to both Houses that such a policy should be adopted. Note that there was no opposition to this recommendation.

    She also knows that the EUMC definition is plainly nonsense, because her assertion of ridiculousness must cover the EUMC definition contained within the policy document.

    Deborah Fisk, if she is serious about her ludicrous statement, thus wishes to become that rather uncommon creature: an antisemitic Jew who cannot be punished, because her party won’t punish her, if she has her way, because she will make sure that it doesn’t adopt a policy on antisemitism. And if she thinks that my statement is nonsense, she should ask herself why she wishes her party _not_ to adopt a policy on antisemitism, unless it is to allow her and others to be antisemitic with impunity.

    Now it is one thing to propose a boycott of Israel, in whole or in part: that doesn’t _have_ to be antisemitic (although there are all sorts of arguments about that that she has never answered, even when these arguments are aimed directly at her); it is also one thing to be anti-Zionist, with the same caveat as just above, that doesn’t _have_ to be antisemitic. However, to wish to stop one’s party adopting _the_ agreed antisemitic policy raises interesting issues. It puts such a person in bed (an unfortunate but appropriate analogy) with open and admitted antisemites, such as the BNP, the EDL (despite their protestations to the contrary), Hamas, Hezbollah, the government of President Ahmadinejad or Iran, among many others.

    I’d think far more than twice before being willingly labelled alongside such people, but this clearly doesn’t bother Deborah Fink – assuming she’s even thought about it.

    Would she propose such a course of action against a proposed policy on racism? Do we need an answer to such a question?

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